Djokovic Stumps Nadal In Rome Quarterfinals

Hi, folks. Long time no post. I’ve been writing exams while struggling with the flu at the same time but I have been following the tennis as always. I didn’t post at all last week during the Madrid Masters which feels strange because I don’t remember the last time that happened.

Djokovic won his second Madrid title when he defeated Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the final. He dropped only the one set in the final as he continued his dominance since his break. He looked refreshed as expected but maybe not quite at his best either.

The stakes are of course higher than ever for him this clay court season and no doubt he will be feeling the pressure. That can certainly affect his level but you are not going to complain about his form in Madrid as a fan.

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Murray made a return to form in Madrid as well and was playing very well. He defeated a resurgent Nadal in straight sets in the semis so losing a set to him in the final was no shame. And so much for Nadal’s much-hyped return to form.

In my last post after Nadal won Barcelona I mentioned that the real test for Nadal will come when Djokovic is back. And then he couldn’t even make it far enough in Madrid to face Djokovic.

  • Djokovic Gets Important Moral Victory Over Nadal

Today he lost in straight sets 7-5, 7-6(4) again to Djokovic. That was the 7th consecutive time he lost in straight sets to Djokovic which means he now lost 15 consecutive sets to the world number one.

If that is not ownage I don’t know what is. The sheer bitterness and hate from Fedal fans are also beyond belief. I don’t know how much longer they can bare these disappointments. As a Djokovic fan, it is of course intensely satisfying to follow his tennis.

Just a great joy and privilege. Rome has been interesting because yesterday Djokovic dropped the first set 0-6 to Bellucci before prevailing 6-3, 6-2 in the last two sets. Are you kidding me, Djokovic getting bageled?!

To me, this is a sign of the pressure he is feeling to finally put the French Open demon to bed. But that match was a kind of blessing in disguise because I think it prepared him well for Nadal today. Nadal was throwing the kitchen sink at him but he absorbed it all and then some.

It was a high-quality and highly entertaining encounter with some incredible rallies. The game point at 4-4 that Djokovic won to hold serve and the set point in the first set were just ridiculous. You won’t see two better clay court points.

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Same for the point at 5-5 and 30-30 in the second set and match point itself. Just unbelievable tennis and the most fitting end possible. These two always put on a great show but this was something extra special.

Nadal was actually serving for the set at 5-4 in the second set but Djokovic is so much in his head now that he can’t even win a set on clay anymore. You gotta hand it to Djokovic though. The guy just keeps coming up with unbelievable quality tennis at the most important moments.

All those four special points I mentioned was won by him and they were all big points. They were also all won with clean winners. You run out of adjectives to describe what this guy is doing in tennis.

It is just very special and satisfying to watch. I think the fact that Djokovic broke back when Nadal served for the set was a telling moment as well. Even if Nadal won only one set he would have seen that as progress going into a possible French Open meeting with Djokovic.

And with their history in Paris Nadal could easily have won again. But shutting Nadal out in straight sets is a very important moral victory for Djokovic going into a possible French Open meeting with Nadal I feel.

  • The French Open Remains Djokovic’s Biggest Test

The French Open is Djokovic’s kryptonite until now and to finally put that demon to bed he has to tread a very thin line. He must go to Paris as the overwhelming favourite or else the pressure will be just too much.

And that will very likely happen now. Yes preferably he still has to win Rome but the straight-set victory over Nadal was critical I felt. So at this point, I still feel like Djokovic is on his way to win the French.

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Like I keep saying, the US Open title last year was great preparation for what he must do at the French because it was a semi-cursed event for him. He had lost in four finals while coming out on top only once.

At the French, he has lost in three finals but in an additional four semi-finals including that devastating loss to Nadal in 2013. And then that 2011 loss to Federer when he was poised to defeat Nadal in the final.

  • Today’s Action

Last night Nishikori defeated Thiem after Thiem defeated Federer earlier this week. It was Federer’s first event back after the Australian Open and injury and I thought he looked quite good actually.

He defeated a dangerous Zverev in straight sets in his first match but then just came up against the better player as he lost 7-6(2), 6-4 to Thiem. That was another big win for Thiem who keeps going from strength to strength.

It’s quite satisfying when you hype a player up and they justify that hype. Thiem is the real deal and I love his game. As for Federer, I can say a lot more about him but this post is already getting very long.

He was apparently still having back problems but like I said I thought he played well and should feel good about his form. He lost to the third best clay courter so far this year who played a great match and that after being out for something like four months.

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So I don’t think there is much to complain about. For him, it is all about the grass court season anyway and he still has plenty of time to get ready for that.

It’s a shame that Thiem lost to Nishikori but Nishikori is playing some great tennis himself of late and he faces Djokovic next. That’s gonna be the match of the day later tonight but first, it will be Murray vs Pouille.

I see Stan lost to Monaco and then Monaco withdrew against Pouille. I think Murray will defeat Pouille so it looks like we could have a repeat of the Madrid final. There are plenty of players playing well on clay right now which makes for a good clay court season.

Apart from Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, Nishikori, and Thiem are all playing some terrific clay court tennis.

Looking forward to the conclusion of Rome!

  • Highlights

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Posted in Rome.

11 Comments

  1. great post as usual ruan. novaks level when breaking back nadal in both sets was amazing…just unbeleivable returns and points…i think novak not only raises his game on sf and finals but also on important games in a set…i dont know what strategy it is called in tennis terms …may be economical tennis??? but i loved it …it usually confuses his oponents.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Sisay. That’s right Novak plays most of his matches in a kind of form-saving mode. Then he brings his best tennis for when he needs it most or when he wants to make a statement.

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  2. Haven’t been here in a long time Ruan. I saw something that reminded me of you. There was a girl who is coached by the same person as berdych. I think her name is Stotkova. As soon as they mentioned that bit of information, the camera went up to a seagull and it took a dump. Made me laugh. You always call him bird****. If that was not intentional, what a coincidence. I think Federer is going to win the next four majors. LOL

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha that’s a good one Gary. I mean the one about Birdshit 😉

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  3. Hi Ruan, I clicked the link in the email alert about your new blog post – “Djokovic stumps Nadal…” but it opened the older blog post – “Nadal wins barcelona…”. I’ve faced this issue a few other times as well, wherein when I access the URL – “heultimatetennisblog.com”, a older post is displayed rather than the latest post. Please check and fix if possible…

    [Reply]

    Bjorn Eirik Reply:

    I have the same issue myself. I have to refresh the page after opening it for the latest posts to appear, and it’s been going on for a long time. For some reason everything works fine when I access the site with my phone, so I just assumed it was some kind of issue with Firefox. Weird

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the feedback guys i made an adjustment so let me know what happened with my latest post.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Do you guys have problems like Mat4 as well where the page keeps loading? Let me know.

    [Reply]

    Bjorn Eirik Reply:

    No, I haven’t had this issue myself.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks BE. I haven’t either. I think it is a problem with is browser or internet. How did it go with the latest newsletter?

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  4. Thiem is the fifth best claycourter now (Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, Nishikori, Thiem).
    If Nadal sorts himself out mentally, he will be dangerous again. Nadal of old would have won the second set of the QF at least. (He had 5 SPs, of which 3 were saved by Djokovic’s play, but one was a basic error and another was a basic decision mistake hitting the ball back to Djokovic instead of away from him when there was a passing shot opportunity.)

    [Reply]

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